Brittney Francis


Dear Minister:

On behalf of the Shark League, a non-profit coalition dedicated to science-based conservation of inherently vulnerable sharks, we write to express our gratitude for Canada’s adherence and promotion of scientific advice for protecting endangered Atlantic shortfin makos, as well as our hope that this much needed leadership will continue with resubmission of Canada’s proposal for science-based mako catch limits by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Continue reading Shark League Letter to the Honourable Bernadette Jordan Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard


 Dear Minister Ribera: 

We write to register our concern about the status of mako sharks and to request information on how Spain is implementing its associated commitments under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Specifically, we are interested in obtaining copies of the national non-detriment findings (NDFs) being used to justify continued high seas fishing of these sharks by Spanish vessels. 

Continue reading Shark League Letter to Minister Teresa Ribera, Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge


Delivered on behalf of Shark League members groups and partner NGOs, including Defenders of Wildlife and Oceana

Our organizations remain deeply concerned about the dire status of shortfin mako sharks, particularly in the North Atlantic. Parties’ responses to scientific advice from ICCAT’s Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) have been inadequate for more than a decade, leading to the serious and urgent situation we face today.

Continue reading ICCAT intervention on mako sharks


The Shark Trust, Ecology Action Centre, The Ocean Foundation, Shark Advocates International, and Defenders of Wildlife thank the European Union for proposing blue shark limits based on the advice of the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SRCS). This heavily fished species remains at risk for overfishing due to the lack of basic catch limits by ICCAT and major fishing nations. The existing landing threshold for the North Atlantic is insufficient to ensure that overages are prevented. South Atlantic blue shark fishing is still essentially unregulated. We urge Parties to establish, without further delay, hard catch limits for blue sharks in both oceans, at levels at or below those advised by the SCRS.

Continue reading ICCAT intervention on blue sharks


Makos, Wedgefishes, and Giant Guitarfishes listed under CITES with support from more than 100 countries

Conservation groups are praising today’s confirmation that all species of Wedgefishes, Giant Guitarfishes, and Mako Sharks will be added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The listings mandate that countries track exports as well as high seas take, and demonstrate that internationally traded products from these species are legally sourced from sustainable fisheries.

“Today’s decisions offer promise of a brighter future for these highly threatened shark and ray species, as international trade has been a major factor in depletion of their slow growing populations,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International, a project of The Ocean Foundation. “CITES listing can help end unsustainable use of Makos, Wedgefishes, and Giant Guitarfishes by prompting improved trade data and much-needed limits on exploitation, while complementing other conservation commitments. As fishing is the main threat to sharks and rays, it’s essential that countries’ CITES representatives work with their national fisheries agency counterparts to ensure that the new obligations are carried out over the coming months.”

Shortfin Makos, exceptionally valuable and vulnerable oceanic sharks, are at risk from targeted and incidental fishing driven by demand for meat and fins. A lack of limits on take is leading to overfishing and a worldwide decreasing trend. Both the Shortfin Mako and the rarer Longfin Mako Shark are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

The North Atlantic offers the clearest case of Shortfin Mako overfishing and decline. In 2019, scientists associated with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) reported that North Atlantic Shortfin Mako catches need to be cut by roughly an order of magnitude (~3000 to ~300 tonnes per year) to give the population a decent (60%) chance of recovering within five decades. Taking into account incidental mortality, ICCAT scientists are recommending a complete ban on North Atlantic Shortfin Mako retention.

“Considering that Spain leads the world in Mako Shark landings, we’re encouraged that the European Union co-sponsored the proposal to list Makos under CITES,” said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust. “We urge the EU to underscore this commitment through proposals to immediately ban North Atlantic Shortfin Mako retention and establish concrete catch limits to ensure Mako landings from all other oceans are sustainable. As virtually all fishing countries are CITES Parties, we’ll be watching for support for such Mako limits at regional fisheries bodies around the world, starting with ICCAT in November.“

Wedgefishes and Giant Guitarfishes, collectively known as Rhino Rays (after their pointy snouts), are considered the world’s most threatened marine fishes. All but one of these 16 shark-like ray species have been classified as Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List.  Their fins are among the most valuable in the global shark fin trade. The coastal fisheries that target or retain Rhino Rays as bycatch are poorly monitored, essentially unregulated, and increasingly intense.

“Rhino Rays are seriously threatened by demand for fins and food, but these extraordinary species have the potential to offer long-term, sustainable benefits as key attractions for ecotourism, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Ian Campbell, Associate Director for Project AWARE. “We are deeply grateful to the many divers who joined us in voicing support for the CITES listings. We now look forward to working with this network and our other partners toward ensuring prompt and full implementation of the international conservation commitments made today.”

Media contact: Patricia Roy email:, Tel: +34 696 905 907

Additional information:

Download press release here


London. 24 June, 2019.  A new report shows that the overfished North Atlantic Shortfin Mako Shark population is continuing to decline and needs not only immediate protection but several decades to recover. Based on new projections for mako populations, scientists associated with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) amplified previous warnings and recommended a North Atlantic ban on retention. Because of depletion to date and an exceptionally low reproductive rate, this population is predicted to continue to decline for another fifteen years before rebuilding can begin.

Continue reading Scientists Issue Grim Status Update on Atlantic Mako Sharks, Recommend Full Ban Conservationists put the spotlight on the EU for inaction and hypocrisy


The Shark Specialist Group (SSG) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released updated Red List assessments for more than 50 species of sharks and rays. Of particular concern is the Shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) whose global classification has changed from Vulnerable to Endangered. Shortfin mako sharks are particularly overfished in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. The SSG is recommending that mako landings be prohibited, which aligns with commitments made by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and scientific advice for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Spain’s high seas fleets take more makos than another other country, but its catches outside the Mediterranean are unlimited and there are no international mako quotas. The Shark League is urging ICCAT Parties, including the EU, to ban mako landings, and GFCM Parties to implement the Mediterranean mako ban at the national level.


The new Red List Assessments for Australian and oceanic sharks can be found at

Species classified as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List are considered threatened with extinction. The Shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and the Longfin Mako (Isurus paucus) have moved from Vulnerable to Endangered classifications, signalling a higher risk of extinction. This change, however, is considered “non-genuine” in IUCN terminology, meaning that it is based on new information not available during the previous assessment.